ANCHORAGE - Two members of Gov. Sarah Palin's administration are taking exception to comments made by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich about the progress of a natural gas pipeline.
In an Anchorage speech Monday, Begich said he's one of many from Alaska to Washington frustrated with the lack of progress on the pipeline.
"We're just frustrated that Alaska has not moved forward with regards to the gas line," the Democrat said in the speech at the World Trade Center Alaska luncheon. "Why aren't the bulldozers pushing dirt? There's no easy answer. But I join a growing chorus, both here and in Washington, who are frustrated with the lack of progress on this project."
The comments prompted Revenue Commissioner Pat Galvin and Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin to send Begich a letter, in which they expressed their surprise and dismay with his speech.
"We must believe that you are uninformed about the current situation in Alaska regarding this project," the letter says.
The Republican governor and legislative leaders awarded a Canadian company, Calgary-based TransCanada Corp., a state license to build a pipeline and with it up to $500 million in incentives.
Denali, a company formed by ConocoPhillips and BP PLC, is proposing its own pipeline without the incentives.
The two projects are making significant progress, the commissioners said, adding politics should not be allowed to diminish that progress or the complexity of the work ahead. They noted that progress on the gas line is the result of bipartisan actions taken by both the state Legislature and U.S. Congress.
They also offered to provide Begich with more information on the project and said that progress on the gas line is the result of bipartisan actions taken by the state Legislature and U.S. Congress.
"We have heard nothing from (President Obama) or members of his administration that reflects frustration with the significant progress that is now occurring," they wrote.
Begich's spokeswoman, Julie Hasquet, told Anchorage television station KTUU that he "appreciates the letter from the state commissioners promising new information about progress on the project, but we had a hard time finding any new information or progress."
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